At Rice University they are blowing up cancer cells with nanoparticle “bombs.” Like integrative immunotherapy, the new cancer-fighting technique kills cancer cells without harming surrounding healthy cells. Experimental trials have been so successful destroying aggressive and resistant cancer cells, particularly in the head and neck areas, that human trials are expected to begin in the near future.
Rice cellular biologist Dmitri Lapolko who developed the new treatment calls it quadrapeutics for the four techniques – nanoparticles, laser, drugs and radiation — used in this revolutionary new cancer treatment. Here’s how it works (Click here to watch a video.):
1. Colloidal gold nanoparticles filled with a small dose of chemotherapy drugs are injected into the body at the tumor site.
2. The nanoparticles are detonated with a near-infrared laser. The gold magnifies the laser’s effect which allows the use of very small doses of radiation.
3. As the laser hits the nanoparticles, they burst. The energy expansion creates a momentary bubble that blows up and destroys surrounding cancer cells, much like the shock wave from a bomb.
4. Chemotherapy drugs released when the nanoparticles explode deliver a second deadly payload to any remaining cancer cells in the area. With their cell walls already damaged by the nanoparticle explosion, remaining cells are quickly penetrated by the chemo drugs which are able to directly attack the cytoplasm at the cells’ heart, destroying them.
If human trials are successful, Lapolko believes quadrapeutics could be valuable in addressing complex tumors intertwined with critical organs. Increasingly the fight against cancer is being conducted on the cellular battlefield. Visit our website for information about cell therapy in cancer treatments.
Alternative treatments are not new, but have been used to battle disease or ease its symptoms for thousands of years, as these examples indicate:
Acupuncture has been an accepted and respected treatment procedure in traditional Chinese medicine since ancient times.
The use of herbal medicine, or phytotherapy, dates back to man’s earliest attempts to treat disease and has historical significance in nearly every human culture.
The therapeutic use of massage therapy also has its roots in antiquity. The Greek physician Hippocrates, considered to be the Father of Medicine, wrote about the therapeutic benefits of “rubbing” in the 5th century B.C.
Everything Old Is New Again
What is “new” in Western medical circles is recognition of the validity of these ancient therapies and their ability to enhance cancer treatment and mitigate the pain and side effects of traditional cancer treatments.
Take tissues if you go see the new hit movie The Fault in Our Stars. The story of two teens with cancer who fall in love has a few weepy moments sandwiched between the romance, self-discovery and laughs. A faithful retelling of John Green’s best-selling young adult novel, the movie faithfully portrays the emotional highs and lows of teens trying to cope with cancer while struggling to live a normal life. (Click here to watch the trailer.)
Hazel and Gus, played by Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort, meet at a cancer support group. She has thyroid cancer, is depressed and must drag around an oxygen canister, an ever-present reminder of cancer’s life-shortening reality and the fact that she is different from the other teens at her high school. He is a basketball star who lost a leg to osteosarcoma but, now 18 months in remission, chooses to celebrate life.
Gus’ ebullient outlook is the perfect antithesis to Hazel’s dour view of life with cancer. While ultimately heartbreaking as childhood cancer often is, their summer romance is a story of hope and overcoming fear as they plunge into life with teenage abandon. Without the specter of cancer lurking in the wings, The Fault in Our Stars might have been merely another sweet teen romance on the summer movie circuit. But the threat that cancer will bring young hopes and dreams to an abrupt halt elevates the movie, reminding us that life is short and should be embraced and lived.